L-R: Jacob and Johnny
I always knew The Drums were super cute and all, but I didn’t know just how effin’ adorable they were until I met Johnny and Jacob in person. At one point, I fell so madly in love with them that I decided to take them on my very own desert island and let them pick which five records to take. We discussed day jobs things too, of course, as Jacob revealed (for the very first time) his past job, as well as his obsessively hygienic habit. Johnny renamed every band on the night’s lineup and talked about how much he hates shopping due to his retail experience. We rocked out to Tha Drams (a Japanese cover band of The Drums), discussed the future, and I even got some helpful advice from them on my thesis paper. By the end of it, I was so enamored (mostly delusional) that I pretended that one of their songs was about me and let them buy me "gifts." Sigh, if only I were a gay boy…A girl can dream. Heart, heart, heart, unicorn, and hugs xoxo.
NOISEY: Hey guys! I know you’re just doing music now but tell me about your humble beginnings! What were your past day jobs?
Johnny: I worked all over the place doing retail stuff. Before this, I was working in a store called Y-3 in the Meatpacking District and I really hated it. Even now, every time I go into a retail store, my heart just goes out.
Damn. What was the worst part of that job?
I guess just putting shoes on rich people’s feet. It feels very caste system-esque and I don’t like feeling that way. I’m a real socialist at heart.
[Laughs] Then how do you go shopping?
I run in and run out as fast as I can and I don’t look at anyone.
But you guys are so stylish!
We dress like grandpas.
Jacob: It’s hard to feel stylish when you get in one of those ruts where you literally wear the exact same outfit for a month.
Yeah, I feel like I usually wear the same shit all weekend long as long as I’m seeing different people each day. What did you do before this band, Jacob?
Johnny: Out with it! Out with it, boy!
Why, were you a stripper?!
Jacob: I’ve been trying to keep this a secret for a while but I was a…uh…I did…um…
Johnny: “I was a uh I did a uh I had a uh I uh” [laughs]
Jacob: I was very involved with puppetry for the past 12 years or so.
Johnny: Not quite stripping but…a close second.
Oh, why’s that so bad? You seem so embarrassed about it!
Jacob: I’m not embarrassed. I think the wonderful thing about puppetry is that you’re hidden behind the stage and it’s not you. You can manipulate things and stuff. Maybe that’s why I’m a little hesitant to talk about it.
Johnny: He gave up puppetry; now he just treats me like a puppet.
[Laughs] Were you really seriously into it? Like Jim Henson-serious?
Jacob: Yeah, I did all sorts of stuff. I worked with the Walt Disney Company and Sesame Street for a while and I did some shows with Heather Henson—Jim Henson’s daughter—for a while too. She has an indie puppet company that does amazing stuff. I dabbled in all sorts of things and I probably will again in the future.
I have a whole new respect for puppetry ever since I watched Being Elmo, that documentary film about Kevin Clash.
Yeah, that’s a fun doc.
Johnny: I thought that movie was OK. I was ready to bawl my eyes out and jump up and cheer, but I didn’t.
Jacob: His point was that there’s no real hardship or struggle.
Yeah, they really glaze over his divorce and relationship with his daughter. I talked to the director and she said Clash was there every step of the way, with the editing and stuff. I think that’s why there’s nothing negative in there.
Johnny: Well, it’s not realistic!
Jacob: As I said, people who get into puppetry want to stay in the background somewhat.
Ah yeah, I never thought of it that way. Anyway, I hear there’s a new album in the works!
Or is there always a new album in the works?
It’s kind of like that.
Jacob: We put out our first two records within a year of each other, which is way too soon these days. It means you’re too inconsistent or something. But we love making music and our favorite part of the process is songwriting and recording, so it’s hard not to do that.
Johnny: It’s a survival technique I guess. Making music is the only thing that keeps us happy and sane and not bored to death.
Jacob: It’s what I do to relax.
[At this point of the interview, we heard really weird dragon noises in the next room over]
What the hell is that?
This opening act is great. It’s a dragon!
What is going on?
Johnny: That’s Part Time, my favorite band right now. They put out a record last year called What Would You Say? that no one has even heard about. I think it came out the same time as the new John Maus and they’re similar, but Part Time’s music is more song-like.
Hmm, I love John Maus too.
John Maus is great, but he’s basically being weird, and Part Time writes pop songs. And then Craft Spells is our other opener. I call them Fart Time and Crap Smells.
Jacob: And I don’t.
Johnny: I think they go well together.
The Drums during soundcheck
[Laughs] What about The Drums?
Jacob: There’s no way you can–
Johnny: The Dumbs.
Jacob: Oh, that’s it [laughs].
Johnny: There’s actually a Japanese cover band called Tha Drams. Everything we’ve ever released, this guy has released the same exact thing—all the instrumentation and artwork—but sung in Japanese.
That’s actually pretty flattering!
It’s so cool.
Jacob: It’s the most flattering thing of all time!
Johnny: He did the EPs and both albums. It’s really charming.
And he translates all the lyrics?
Jacob: Yeah, but it’s really funny because I think what he does is he translates them word for word so when he sings them in Japanese, there are a million extra syllables and he sings really fast to try to cram them in.
Johnny: Instead of switching something around to make it work.
That’s so cute! Have you made contact with him?
Jacob: We’ve met him about a year and a half ago.
Johnny: I was toying with the idea of having him open for us. Or have him come out and sing one song with us.
He should open for you and do the entire set you’re going to do first, but in Japanese.
Yeah, the exact same set! That’d be so good.
Or you should open for him. He should headline.
That’s a great idea. I should learn Japanese so we can do a duet together.
Yes, please. Do you guys have any weird tour habits?
Jacob: I floss my teeth a lot. Like, at the wrong times I guess.
Like during the set?
It might get to that point.
Johnny: He’s obsessed with flossing his teeth. It’s the weirdest thing.
Is it just an on-tour thing?
No, always. In the next hour he will have flossed his teeth for sure. Were you planning on it? Be honest.
Jacob: Uh yeah, probably.
[Laughs] What about you, Johnny?
Johnny: I never floss. I’m probably the most unhealthy.
Jacob: Flossing adds years to your life.
Johnny: You think so?
Jacob: Mmhmm, I’m gonna live forever.
Johnny: I feel like it takes away years of your life because you spend so much time flossing.
Jacob: Well, that’s the thing –some people are really looking forward to their time as an old man.
You guys will make the best grandpa band.
Johnny: I hope so. We gotta re-form when we’re 80 and join Tha Drams. We’ll all play together.
I can’t wait. Anyway, let’s pretend we’re going on a desert island. What five records would you take with you?
Hmm…Once you leave, my actual five will pop in my head. I would take Björk’s Homogenic, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Ibm1401: A User’s Manual…
Jacob: That’s a good one.
Johnny: It’s stunning. It's by this orchestral composer from Iceland. He does five different movements and it’s all dedicated to the first computer ever brought to Iceland. The orchestra plays over an instructional vinyl that came with the computer. We really love the old, romantic vision of the future. The vision of the future now is ugly, but back then the future was so beautiful.
That’s funny, I’m actually writing my thesis paper on comparing visions of the future from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
Really? That’s so weird!
Jacob: That’s wonderful. That’s kind of one of our obsessions. You know, Epcot was supposed to be a natural community people lived in. You should look into that. [Author's Note: I wrote about it in my thesis].
Johnny: Anyway, continuing with my albums…Homework by Daft Punk, Avant Hard by Add N To (X), and We Are the Music Makers by Joy Electric.
Jacob: I would bring…
Johnny: Oh! Can I switch one out?
Jacob: [Laughs] We take this so seriously, like we’re actually gonna be dropped off on this island with these records.
Johnny: I’m adding a sixth: Unisex by Blueboy.
Jacob: Stole one of mine!
Johnny: We’ll each bring five and one to share.
Sure. My island, my rules.
Jacob: Mine are Where’d You Learn to Kiss That Way? by The Field Mice, Hope in a Darkened Heart by Virginia Astley, Songs & Stories by Dance House Children, and Hounds of Love by Kate Bush…
Fun times on this island.
Johnny: A lot of sad crying.
[Laughs] Aww. And if you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?
Johnny: Choosing which bridge to jump off of.
Cause you’d be so broke? Is that where “Money” came from?
Yeah, it’s about being in love and trying to be sweet but messing up all the time thus trying to compensate by buying someone something but realizing you don’t have money anyway. So you’re a total loser and you’re an asshole.
“I want to buy you something but I don’t have any money”
I know you guys just met me, but let’s say that song is about me. What would you buy me considering you have money?
Jacob: I would buy you an annual pass to Epcot.
Oh, thank you!
Johnny: And I would buy you future glasses. If you wear them, you can see into the future. So if you look at that wall, you can see what it will look like in, say, 10 years.
Ooh, so I can see what you will look like in the future?
Yeah, but I’ll still be gorgeous.
Find The Drums’ summer tour dates on their website and check out Tha Drams’ version of “Money”:
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